Haswell, Richard H., and Min-Zhan Lu, eds. Comp Tales: An Introduction to College Composition through Its Stories. New York: Pearson-Longman, 2008. Print.
Like many anthologies, Comp Tales, a collection of stories about teaching college writing accompanied by some theorizing in relation to the stories, makes for an uneven read. For our purposes, most valuable are the stories themselves, and any instructor who has utilized writing in a course will likely be able to relate to many of the experiences in the stories. Indeed, this collection of composition lore can provide valuable pedagogical advice. For example, consider the experience of Leon Coburn, who marked every cliché on a student’s paper with the word “cliché”, only to be rewarded with even more cliches on subsequent papers. Finally, he confronted the student to ask her to use less cliches in her writing, and she replied, “I thought you kept marking them because you liked them” (40). Clearly, even comments the meaning of which instructors would assume to be self-evident can be completely misunderstood by students, a lesson we should all remember when communicating with students. Not every selection in the book provides such a fable complete with an educational moral, but the “Classrooms,” “The Writing,” and “The Student” chapters offer many. As Lu notes, “The premise of this book project is that who we are, how we act, and what we think inform and are informed by the stories we tell” (195). What can we learn from the stories we tell about our teaching experiences at Ursuline? This book is available through OhioLINK.